Padmanabhan trained Well Connected has developed this habit of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat as she demonstrated her fighting qualities while nailing Gift of Grace in the closing stride of the race to win the Gr 3 Fillies Championship Stakes, the first classic of the season on Monday at Malakpet in a new course record timing of one minute 39.09 seconds. Padmanabhan, the trainer with the classic touch thus got the fifth success in this premier event.
Well Connected had won the Kingfisher Ultra Derby from a difficult situation. When the cause seemed lost, Well Connected and David Allan conjured up a winning performance with a breath-taking effort. A similar fare awaited the racing enthusiasts in the first classic of the season. Contrary to expectations of Well Connected having it easy, Gift of Grace stole a march over her adversary in the final furlong and appeared to have enough cushion to win when Well Connected produced her patented burst of speed. Thailand who fought hard all the way in the stretch with Gift of Grace was a close third. The three-way tight finish enlivened the proceedings.
Well Connected was quoted at cramped odds. Trainer Padmanabhan had said in the pre-race interview that there would be a fight for the spoils as he felt that Thailand had looked better than she was at Bangalore when the two had clashed in the Grade 1 event. Gift of Grace who had recorded an impressive win and then faltered when she was raced in a short interval was another whose potential was there but not revealed completely. As such, the race did not look as easy as the market expected.
Jockey Zervan took the progeny of Speaking of Which to the front within the first furlong as there was not much pace in the race followed by Exclusive Art, Thailand and Well Connected while the rest were spaced out behind. Gift of Grace kicked on resolutely in the stretch and kept Thailand at bay, enjoying an edge throughout the stretch. When the pace quickened, Well Connected fell behind and as a result, had to cover considerable leeway in the final 100 meters. The game filly who is all heart responded to the desperate urgings of jockey Sandesh and produced a powerful finish which enabled the top-ranked filly to maintain her unbeaten record. Well Connected perhaps did not relish the slow pace which could explain her hard-fought win. It is also possible that Well Connected needs more ground to assert her undoubted supremacy.
Srinivas Reddy trained Mon General had the credentials top win the1200 metres Prince of Berar Trophy, a race for horses rated 40 to 65. The speedy customer was taken on a start to finish mission by apprentice jockey Gaurav Singh. Mon General enjoyed a healthy lead all through the race and though Shandaar made a strong bid in the end, it was not good enough to topple the favourite. Blazer showed some aggression in the stretch but could not sustain the effort and even lost the runner-up berth to late rallying Shandaar.
Laxman Singh trained Galloping Gangster obliged expectations in the 1200 metres Chaitanya Chakram Plate (Div I), a race for maiden three-year-olds. Galloping Gangster chased Mind Reader into the straight and then spurted ahead in the hands of jockey Ashhad Asbar and held off Maxwell whose late flourish was suggestive of early success. Mind Reader who went wide in the early part of the race before leading the field into the straight weakened to finish third. While Satyanarayana trained Maxwell was late on the scene, this was no so in the lower division of the race where his ward City of Wisdom came from the rear of the group with an aggressive run in the straight to tackle Silver Set and win the race in great style despite drifting out violently in the final stages of the race. Sterling King was third. Another Satyanarayana trainee to win at long odds was Carmella who won the division III of the race in taking style. Despite a good forward run, Carmella could run at long odds as debutant Merry Dane came in for big support. Jockey Kuldeep Singh had Carmella lead all the way and the progeny of New Famous, despite going wide in the stretch, was good enough to win the race by over four lengths. O`Brien was second while debutant Merry Dane who was heavily backed to win, ending up a disappointing third.
Hilton Sequeira trained Gusty Look carried the top weight to an impressive win in the 1600 metres Democracy Plate, a race for horses rated 20 to 45. Sporting Smile led aggressively in the stretch but once Gusty Look got into his rhythm, there was no stopping the progeny of Gusto who went on to win easily from the long-time leader. Brave Warrior was third while Southern Lady who led the field into the straight faded out of the reckoning in the stretch and finished a tame fourth.
Anant Vatsalya has been having a good run with his horses who have made it a habit of winning at fancy odds. Sindhu treated the opposition with disdain to win the 1400 metres Donegal Plate, a race for horses in the lowest category. In the hands of apprentice jockey Afroz Khan, Sindhu shot into a decisive lead in the final furlong and won in great style from Diesis Dream and Story Teller. Favourite Starboy and the heavily supported Wood Bridge made no show.
Galloping Gangster (A Ashhad Asbar up) winner of the Chaitanya Chakram Plate (Div-I)
Gusty Look (Akshay Kumar up) winner of the Democracy Plate
City Of Wisdom (Deepak Singh up) winner of the Chaitanya Chakram Plate (Div-II)
Mon General (Gaurav Singh up) winner of the Prince Of Berar Trophy
Well Connected (A Sandesh up) winner of the Deccan Fillies Championship Stakes (Gr.3)
Carmella (Kuldeep Singh up) winner of the Chaitanya Chakram Plate (Div-III)
Sindhu (Afroz Khan up) winner of the Donegal Plate